Translators’ Troubles: Seeking a Method that Suits the Bhāgavata Purāṇa
This paper discusses the particular challenges that face translators of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, a text that is unlike any other Purāṇa, due to its use of Vedic grammar, sophisticated poetry, and obscure vocabulary. How might one find a translation method that suits the Bhāgavata? The paper explores translation as a process of vernacularization and of commentary, but finally settles on a pedagogical approach. By conceiving of translation as an act of teaching, the paper argues, the translator is best able to model the Bhāgavata’s own methods—its tightly woven narrative structure, relentlessly focused message, and dialogical style.
KeywordsBhāgavata Purāṇa translation method commentary narrative pedagogy
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I am grateful to John Stratton Hawley (Barnard College, Columbia University) and Kenneth R. Valpey (Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies) for their helpful comments on an early draft of this article.
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